Sweet Sweet Seoul
Words and shots by Joe McPherson
1 Tofu Ice Cream
Bean Table, Gyeonggi-do
These young chefs do some serious farm to table Korean. They’re famous for making their own organic tofu, and have even turned it into ice cream. It’s rich, creamy—and vegan! Their whole menu is fantastic, but everyone looks forward to the ice cream at the end.
87-2 Geumto-dong, Sujeong-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do. 031-8017-2213
2 Floating Islands
Le Saint-Ex, Seoul
When you walk in the door of Le Saint-Ex, you are greeted by a table creaking with gorgeous Wonka-worthy desserts. The Floating Islands is the dessert people remember. Crack through the caramel glaze to get to the merengue, which is hiding a luscious custard center.
119-28 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu. lesaintex.kr 02-795-2465
3 Seoul Patbingsu
Meal Top, Seoul
When summer rolls around, the competition heats up in the patbingsu business. Cafes and restaurants come out each year with more over-the-top shaved ice treats. But to locals in the know, Meal Top still makes the best bingsu. The advantage is that they make them in individual servings, so diners can try different flavors.
165 Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu. 02-547-6800
4 Insa-dong Hoddeok
Any Insa-dong street food stall, Seoul
Hoddeok, that stuffed doughnut-like pastry, gets its best treatment in the Insa-dong neighborhood. It was one street cart of desire—with an hour-long line. Then everyone else got in on the action, and you can get the special Insa-dong hoddeok all over. What makes it so special? Simple: they add cornmeal to the dough.
5 Rhubarb Tart
Chef Garrett Edwards was ahead of the curve when he brought pies and tarts to Seoul. He pushed for quality and hard-to-get ingredients, and his gamble paid off. We pick the rhubarb tart out of his many tantalizing creations because it’s possibly the only place in Korea you’ll find one. It’s a delicate exercise between sweet and tart that makes your tastebuds scream for more.
119-15 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu. 02-3785-3400
Red Beans Galore
Words and shots by Ggot-nim Lee
6 Homemade Patbingsu and Chocolate Pavé
Manil Manil, Jeonju Hanok Village
Enjoy your patbingsu in a traditional hanok in Jeonju, where the red beans and milk ice are made by hand. The thick, luscious sauce has an authentic taste that’s more satisfying than sweet. Sugar addicts can instead gorge themselves on the deliciously sliceable chocolate pavé, a silky truffle covered in cocao powder.
72-3 Gyo-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si. 063-283-8611
7 Sweet Pumpkin Bingsu
Not to be left out, Dadan also makes every one of their bingsu ingredients in-house. But their star fusion dessert order also comes with big heaping scoops of smooth pumpkin mousse that plays perfectly off of the mellow taste of red beans and cold ice. Topped with slices of jujubes and rice cake, this is a bingsu that you’ll find hard to forget.
200-9 Dongmyeong-dong, Dong-gu. 062-236-0606
8 Mom’s Hands Patjuk (Ummason Patjuk)
Songjeong Five-Day Market, Namhae, Gwangju
Avoid bingsu on a cold day and instead warm up with patjuk, a Jeolla specialty of thick, soupy red bean porridge filled with doughy noodles. Located at one of Korea’s traditional o-il-jang (a market that opens just once every five days), Mom’s Hands Patjuk serves huge hearty helpings for just W3,000. Choose between salt and sugar to adorn your soup and turn it into either a meal or a dessert.
Seongjeong Five-Day Market next to Namhae in Gwangsan-gu
3 pm Dessert Break
Words and shots by Seok-won Jang
9 Fauchon Berry Cake
Fauchon Café, Seoul
Try this sweet, refreshingly tart layered berry cake from Fauchon, the gourmet French food brand shop at Lotte Department Store. Filled with blueberry and raspberry cream smothered in between of cool spongy cake, this frosting-covered treat is just enough without being too much.
Lotte Department Store Myeongdong near Euljiro Ipgu Stn. (line 2, exit 7). 02-771-2500
10 Chocolate Cream and Fruit Tarts
A’de Choi Salon De Thé, Busan
Bring a date or a friend to this beachside café, which boasts a tranquil ocean view as well as scrumptious handmade tarts. The menu changes every day, but favorites include the mildly sweet raspberry jam tart and the decadent mousse-like chocolate tart.
446-10 Songjeong-dong Haeundae-gu. 070-8804-1355